What is the Balance of Likability and Integrity?

“Teach her to reject likability. Her job is not to make herself likable, her job is to be her full self, a self that is honest and aware of the equal humanity of other people." ~ Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie


When I teach negotiation, I emphasize the importance of integrity and being liked throughout the process. I teach how to work with your counterpart to get what you want by being kind and generous. I also help you express your truth, have boundaries and stick to your bottom line.

All of that requires you to walk a very fine line and sometimes this can feel damn near impossible. 

I grew up knowing how to make myself likable. I know how to say the rightthings to get people to like me. I know how to win over and woo others, and this talent has served me well. 

Research shows over and over again that people hire people they like and trust, and people buy things from people they like and trust. My ability to make myself liked by even the most difficult people has helped me be a top salesperson and to turn around businesses that were struggling. It has been one of my greatest strengths in my career -- allowing me promotions, raises and bonuses I wouldn't have otherwise gotten. 

However, as I got older I started to realize that making myself likable to everyone at all times also meant that I had to reject a part of myself -- the part of me that had opinions, boundaries, and a voice -- my integrity. 

And because I had been repressing it for so long, it took years of therapy, coaching and inner work to discover what was in alignment versus what wasn't. It took a long time to learn what felt good versus what felt bad in my body. It took a lot of practice to stand in my integrity, speak my mind and be true to my authentic self even when I knew others weren't going to like it. 

When I started to stand in integrity, I started to notice how hard it is to stay liked and in integrity at the same time, all the time. 

Because here's the truth -- in business, in negotiation, in leadership it's important to be liked by those around you, and people like you when you are generous with your resources, gratitude, and kindness -- you cannot succeed in your career if you walk around disliked by others. 

BUT you have to find the line between your integrity, authenticity and true nature AND your awareness "of the equal humanity of other people" through compassion, kindness and gratitude. 

Which leads me to ask...


How do you maintain a receptive, open and collaborative mode in business while also setting boundaries, asserting opinions and staying clear and focused?

How do you balance likability and integrity at work?

I want you to be the kind of leader we need more of in the world -- a strong and wise one who knows when to choose integrity over being liked, and how to do it with kindness and grace.

I want you to be the kind of woman who does something powerfully because it's in alignment with your integrity, even if it means someone will dislike you for it. 

I also want you to pursue likability in service of your vision, mission and work when necessary. And remember likability, integrity, kindness and compassion are not always exclusive of one another. They can, at times, exist simultaneously. 

Where's the balance for you? How do you manage this struggle in your professional life?